In Season: A cheesy treat with a seasonal green

Sweet tender leeks smothered in a creamy cheese sauce and baked until golden and bubbly. Need I say more?


8 medium-sized leeks
100g gruyere or any tasty melting cheese

For the white sauce

25g butter
2 Tbsp flour
2 cups milk
1 Tbsp grain mustard
1 tsp salt
1-2 grates nutmeg

Serves 4


To make the white sauce:

In a medium saucepan, warm the butter over medium-low heat until melted. Add the flour and stir until smooth. Over medium heat, cook until the mixture turns a light golden, sandy colour (about 6 to 7 minutes).

Meanwhile, heat the milk in a separate pan until it is almost boiling. Add the hot milk to the butter mixture ½  a cup at a time, whisking continuously until very smooth.

Cook 10 minutes over a low heat, stirring constantly, then remove from heat. Season with salt, mustard and nutmeg, set aside until ready to use.

Preheat the oven to 200degC.

Half fill a suitable-sized pot with water and season with salt. Bring to the boil while you prepare the leeks.

Trim off most of the dark green of the leek and tidy the other end if need be, but keep the root end together. Wash the leeks well under running cold water, then drain. Cook in the boiling water until tender (5-8 minutes), then remove carefully as you want to keep the leeks whole. Drain on a clean cloth, gently squeezing out excess moisture.

Lay the leeks either in one large ovenproof dish or in individual ones. Coat with the white sauce and sprinkle generously with cheese and a little cracked pepper.

Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes or until the cheese sauce is bubbling and has gone a delicious golden colour.

Serve immediately.


• Alison Lambert, chef at the Otago Farmers Market, will be demonstrating this recipe at the market on Saturday morning.

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